I am taking on more and more cabinet refresh projects (for hire), and still never tire of the transformations. My latest project is an oak, galley style kitchen, and I’m digging deeper into ideas to make these older kitchens look more modern. Paint is obviously a big hitter in terms of updating a kitchen, but let’s talk about something else that is equally powerful – cabinet hinges.
You’re probably already yawning at the thought of a discussion on hinges, but stick with me here. It makes a bigger difference than what you’d think!
Many older kitchens out there have exposed hinges, where you can see the hinge mounted to the cabinet frame. By swapping out that hinge for an updated, hidden hinge, the transformation can really take a space from dated to modern, just like that.
Look at this amazing kitchen reveal at Everyday Enchanting. Now, they did more than just paint the cabinets – they added a new backsplash, island, hardware, sink, appliances and lighting. HOWEVER, they did swap out their exposed cabinet hinges for hidden ones. Take a look at her before and after photos – these are the same cabinets people.
Fantastic, right? Now, think about how much busier the cabinets would look if they still had the exposed hinges. Granted, with polished chrome hardware, it would minimize the hinge effect, but suppose you like oil rubbed bronze hardware? Exposed hinges of that variety would really stand out against the clean white cabinets. Having hidden hinges gives you the freedom to change hardware on a whim.
Here is an example of a kitchen that was painted, but the hinges were left exposed. I still think it’s a dramatic improvement, and in some cases, the exposed hinges can be part of the original charm of the style and era of the home. But, it demonstrates my point that it gives the eye more to look at here.
In some homes it does serve as a character feature, adding to the original charm and period of the home.
I can totally appreciate that. You’ll notice that these cabinets are also flush with the cabinet frames, which makes the hinges a little less noticeable. But sometimes, the hinge effect just isn’t quite as charming, and can be more distracting than anything. A lot depends on what kind of cabinet overlay you’re dealing with and the aesthetic that you’re looking for in this sort of project.
Here are the three different kinds of kitchen cabinet doors that demonstrate the different overlays and hinge options. The first is similar to what I’m working on now – a framed cabinet with an overlay on the cabinet frame. The second is a framed cabinet where the doors are inset, flush with the cabinet frame. And the third is a frameless cabinet where hidden hinges are utilized.
In dealing with oak cabinets, the trend seems to be towards modernizing vs. retaining vintage charm.
Here is a peek at the kitchen I’m currently working on:
The homeowner has already installed a new tile backsplash, and will also be replacing the floors with new tile and painting the walls once I’m finished with the cabinets. But the homeowner was concerned about the hinges standing out against a light cabinet color. A cabinet refresh is going to help tie the updates together, and when we got to talking about the hinges, I did some research, and found a great local woodworker to help change the hinges from exposed to concealed.
At face value, hinges seem pretty straight forward, but they can be tricky, depending upon the kind of cabinets you have and the “overlay” that I mentioned above. So I’m leaving this task to the pros (although I’m sure I will learn something in the process). But, I think the end result is going to be amazing!
In the meantime, I’m sticking with what I know. Painting cabinets:
And starting to play with my new HVLP turbine spray system. (Whenever I say HVLP turbine, I think of the movie “A Christmas Story” and how Ralphie describes his Red Ryder BB gun – “an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle.” I think I’m equally enamored with my new gun, even if it doesn’t have a compass and a stock. 😉
What are your thoughts on hinges? Or have you not given a whole lot of thought to them until now? Do you prefer the hidden or exposed version? Have you ever changed them out yourself?